[ 10 posts ]  Reply to topicPost new topic 
CC's Review Guide, Writing reviews that don't suck.
Author Message
 [us]
 Post subject: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:40 pm 
User avatar
Resident Ninnyhammer
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
Every once in a while I see a mediocre review, barely scraping past quality control. It might have poor spelling and grammar. It might be heavily biased. Or, possibly, it might be incredibly terse, with two or three sentences at most per section, never digging into the details of what the game is or why it is good or bad... in fact, it might not even say anything meaningful at all. And I cannot lie--if I was in quality control, I would vote to reject them. Since I'm not in quality control, I'll have to settle for public education and hope for the best.

And so, this topic was made. I've been writing several reviews and I've earned both a Super Reviewer Badge and an MFGG Award. Let me share with you how to write reviews that will be helpful both to game makers and game players.

Because some people learn better by example, this topic will contain excerpts of good and bad reviews. For bad reviews, names will not be provided to protect the innocent. If your review is quoted, it ought to be a sign that you need to improve or completely rewrite it. Consider doing the right thing and taking responsibility for your bad writing instead of, say, writing a passionate and immature response.

ANALYSIS

The first thing you want to do before you even start writing a review is to actually play the game as thoroughly as possible. In cases where the game is too difficult or incompetently made to finish, make a good effort to finish it anyway. In the case of especially large games (e.g. Super Mario Fusion: Revival), I'd say you don't HAVE to finish it--but at least try to clear a good amount and variety of content before you click that Add Review link.

If you cannot play much of the game at all due to crashes or whatnot, see whether other people are having the same problems as you. You may find a solution, or you may find that the game crashes on Level 2 for half the players who wrote a comment. It's unusual, but possible that a crash may just be a fault of unique hardware setups or system errors. Think hard about whether the fan game designer really deserves that scathing review you were about to write because his game didn't work on your PC. If you are using Windows 8, don't be afraid to dock points for any sound-related crashes for newer games--there isn't really a reason why they shouldn't be trying to work around that.

Doing all of this will not only give you more content to write about, but will also make you less susceptible to being inaccurate or flat out wrong about something.

WRITING (GENERAL)

Now that you've played the game as thoroughly as possible, it's time to write a review that is as detailed as possible. A detailed review will be more helpful to both the creator and any potential players who want to know about the game before they play it. Quantity does not always correlate with quality, but quantity is not something you want to skimp on when writing reviews.

Exhibit A wrote:
it's not the best out there, but it plays well for what it is

It takes this reviewer 14 words to say absolutely nothing. Perhaps he'd be interested in a political career?

Exhibit B wrote:
Fun! It controls well and it's just an awesome experience. The sky levels were also brilliant.

Here the reviewer actually says things, but doesn't really go into detail.

In Exhibit A above, we have the entirety of a gameplay section of a review. Notice how it is only one sentence long and that it says nothing of value. Even though the gameplay score is 7/10, the reviewer fails to give any reason why it deserved anything less than a perfect score, or why it deserved anything more than a miserable 1. It doesn't even say anything about what the gameplay is. If this was an English essay, it would deserve nothing more than a big goose egg.

Exhibit B is marginally better. The reviewer has made a token effort to mention things he likes about that game. That said, we still don't know a lot about what the gameplay is, and well, there's not a whole lot on WHY he likes the gameplay either. I wouldn't give this review a goose egg (if only because Exhibit A was a greater failure), but it would still get an F.

Now, let's compare those with the gameplay section of a competently written review:

Exhibit C wrote:
Mario CoinPuzzle consists of eight levels where the objective is to collect all the coins in the room. Once you've snagged all the loot, you're off to the next level. As the game progresses, the levels grow larger and more difficult. This concept has been attempted in many later fangames, and it's not a bad basis for a Mario fangame. Unfortunately, the game's multitude of shortcomings prevent it from being particularly fun to play.

The biggest problem with the game is the awkwardness of Mario's mechanics. Mario accelerates to full speed almost instantaneously, like most Clickteam games. That's not always a bad thing, but once Mario gets going, he's fast - as in Sonic the Hedgehog fast. This kind of speed might be fine in a Sonic game, but this is a puzzle-platformer hybrid where precise controls are crucial. Glitches add to the artificial difficulty. The classic Clickteam platform glitch that prevents you from jumping over a pipe or ledge if you're standing right next to it, combined with the tendency to get stuck when hitting your head against the bottom of a platform, makes the space level and the final boss needlessly frustrating. Another glitch allows you to run off the edge of the screen, forcing you to restart from the last password point (yes, we used passwords for game saving back then!). If those glitches were smoothed out, and Mario's mechanics were less awkward, this game would've been a far more playable game.

After writing this, both of Vinny's arms obviously fell off.

See how descriptive VinnyVideo is? He not only tells you what Mario CoinPuzzle is, but he also tells you in detail why Mario CoinPuzzle deserved a gameplay rating of 3/10--the game has many flaws and glitches that prevent it from being fun to play. This is what your reviews should look like.

When writing a review, you ought to write it as if it was an essay in your English class. This means that you ought to spell, capitalize, and punctuate properly. Both Firefox and Chrome have built-in spell checkers (which may or may not be enabled), and there is no reason you shouldn't be using them. If you write like a disabled five year old, that is what you are going to look like when your review is put up on the mainsite. If English is not your primary language and you don't know how to write something, at least try to look it up. Your ability to communicate in English will improve, and so will your review.

I would hope that most of your words are in the right order, and that most of your sentences aren't run-ons or fragments. Yes, I am being a Grammar Nazi. Yes, reviews are serious business. If you aren't willing to take them seriously (well, not too seriously), you are wasting your time.

Your reviews ought to be constructive. Your goal is to inform and to help the creator improve, not to bash his work and insult him. If the creator has a history of making bad games and not improving, call him out on it by all means--but your purpose is not to post flame bait. I know I've been a bit mean-spirited in the past, and I'm trying to correct that by going in a different direction with my review style. I find it more fun to write lighthearted reviews with occasional sarcasm and one-liners.

Speaking of which, try to incorporate humor into your reviews. Humor builds rapport with your audience, possibly including the creator himself (if he is mature and isn't offended at being made fun of). Done well, it will make your reviews fun to read, and you will have fun writing them. A bit of wit provides a way to insult the work without coming off as hostile (that said, do it wrong and you may come off as smug instead).

Lastly, try to keep a level head. Biased reviews, whether overly positive or overly negative, don't help anybody. If you can't write as objectively as possible (the difficulty of applying objectivity to an opinion notwithstanding), you shouldn't be writing at all.

WRITING (SPECIFIC)

Overview: This is your chance to describe the game in general, as well as your general thoughts of it. Use this opportunity to explain the game's premise and why it is (or isn't) worth checking out.

Pros and Cons: In this section, you provide a quick list of things you liked and disliked about the game. This is where you are permitted to be terse about the game's good and bad points. That said, you should still be a little more informative than Exhibit A. Exhibit B would pass for Pros and Cons material.

Gameplay: Here you can discuss things like level design, difficulty, the controls, and any glitches you found in the game. In more plot-driven games, you may lump plot and characterization in here as well. If you are going to skimp on any category, do not skimp on this one.

As mentioned in the Analysis section, you ought to have played the game as much as possible so you have plenty to talk about in this section. If your memory's fuzzy, you may want to play it a bit more as you're writing this section.

Graphics: How good are the sprites, tiles, and backgrounds? Is there style clashing, and how justified is it? Did the creator recycle overused graphics or choose fresher, custom ones? Think about the creator's choice of graphics. If he has (good) custom graphic, especially if he made them himself, commend him for it. Make a note of any special effects and eye candy.

Pay attention to the quality of sprites and tiles. Look at how they are shaped, animated, colored, and shaded. Are shapes well-defined and fluid? Do they have a clearly defined light source, or are they just pillow shaded?

Sound: When rating sound, look (listen?) for originality in music and SFX selection. Always reward unusual and remixed music choices (provided the music doesn't suck), especially when they are explicitly made for the game.

If you are using a computer without speakers or a sound card, try playing the game on a different computer instead. If this is not an option, be honest about not having sound. Don't guess or fabricate anything about the sound quality and don't pull a score out of your anus.

Replay Value: Does the game have multiple difficulties? High scores? Bonus content? How willing are you to play the game again once the game's primary content is over with?

Final Words: This is also a place where you are permitted to be terse. Ironically, these are the first words of a review anyone will see, so be short and to the point. If your Final Words turn out to be a massive paragraph, consider moving that paragraph to the Overview section.

SCORING

How you want to balance scoring is up to you, but I prefer to give gameplay the lion's share of the final score. To me, the other sections are more forgivable if the game at its core is fun to play, and forgettable if the gameplay is garbage. I treat replay value kind of like an extra--it's nice to have, but it won't hurt too much if it's missing. As for the scale itself, this is what the numbers mean to me:

1337, 13, 11: ???--images exist but I don't know what game ever got them, if any. These scores may have been temporary.
10: Perfect--just about flawless. This score should not be given out lightly, as it represents the best of the best.
9: Amazing--might have some tiny flaws but is nonetheless awesome. The best, but not quite the best of the best.
8: Great--not quite AAA quality but still pretty darn respectable.
7: Good--flaws in the game are affecting the quality somewhat but it is still pretty enjoyable. Don't expect it to win many awards, though (I suppose you could win GOTM in a slow month, nonetheless).
6: Okay--obviously flawed but some may still find it enjoyable.
5: Average--fairly balanced between good and bad. Not many will find it worth playing.
4: Poor--more bad than good. I wouldn't recommend playing 4/10 games at all, unless it happens to be historical or you wish to play it yourselves.
3: Bad--the good points are starting to fade into oblivion. Generally, there will be nothing worth seeing here. Don't waste your time playing these.
2: Awful--goes above and beyond the call of being bad. If you aren't laughing at how utterly stupid one of these games are, you are either bored out of your mind or enraged by it. Twiddling your thumbs would be more entertaining.
1: Quality Control is Drunk--or possibly on drugs. Games with this score are irredeemably bad--they either have no good qualities whatsoever, or their qualities are small enough to be insignificant. These games are only enjoyable in an ironic sense, and any fun is entirely unintentional on the creator's part. Games with a score of 1/10 often make excellent snark bait. If you aren't planning on reviewing the game yourself, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
0: ???--Don't know about that one either.
-1: Goomba Go Squish, given by Techokami. It's pretty bad, but the negative score seems to be given in jest.
-2: Mario Minigame Mayhem, arguably the worst game on MFGG.

Scores outside the 1-10 range are only possible through trickery, and quality control will no longer accept them due to abuse.

CONCLUSION

Some of you folks may take this advice to heart and will start writing reviews that are more valuable for both creators and players. Some of you may not. Anyway, here's some tips in a (rather wordy) guide, which I hope will be of use to somebody. If you've found this helpful, or you have something to add, post away!


Last edited by Cap'n Coconuts on Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:34 am, edited 5 times in total.
_________________
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [zz]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:56 pm 
User avatar
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
This guide is really helpful, and I think you really deserve to be a Quality Control staffer. I will try to make my reviews better, unless you think they are perfect.

_________________
Image
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:08 pm 
User avatar
Your local psychic.
Global Moderator
[M]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
Quote:
Yes, reviews are serious business.


Heaven forbid somebody not take a Mario fangame review seriously.

Of course, detailed, thoughtful reviews are infinitely more useful than inane blubberings.

_________________
Zero Kirby, your local psychic. Check out my game reviews! Latest review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Falcon Punch is the result of the Sun heating fists. It drives the Blue Falcon. Heating causes destruction of water into the pain, where it then hurts, creating rain. Rain creates flowing water in tears, which can then be converted into other forms through more pain.


scaled image
Mario's Sticker Stage - Finished adding Jump Stickers!, 26%
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:16 pm 
User avatar
The Dark Warrior
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
A very helpful piece of writing. Though I have a few things to say that I disagree with.

If Im reading what you said on the graphics and music section of the post, whether or not a resource found in a game is overused should not be counted as a con, nor be a pro if the game uses something most other developers have not used before. Its like you are rewarding developers for using resources that are not commonly used while punishing others for using overused resources. What should be rewarded is that whether or not the graphics and music choices compliments the aesthetic of the game...punished if they don't.

On the subject of scoring, 0 is a valid number to give to a game if the game merits it and I am certain that it can be accessed by normal means, so why have labeled "???"? (Unless you can prove me wrong on that if the number 0 cannot be accessed by normal means).
EDIT: Zero Kirby told me that its not accessible by normal means.

Other than that, its a fairly informative guide.

_________________
My DeviantArt: http://strikeforcer.deviantart.com/
My YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/sspp0310

ATTENTION! I am in need of coders to help fix Mario's physics for Mysterious Islandz. The game as it stands, is quite glitchy. If you are good at GM8 and is capable of reading FDE Exi's code, PM me!

Spoiler:


Image

I am the true darkness. MFGG stands in my way!
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:39 pm 
User avatar
Always have a Shy-Guy in your avatar
Administrator
[A]
[S]
[W]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

Thanks for writing this. It's about time MFGG had a detailed guide for writing good reviews, so this topic is getting a sticky.

I agree that I'd probably deduct points for a new game with Windows 8 sound crashes. This glitch is well-known by now, so if you're a developer, you have two ways to fix it: you can switch to GM Studio, or you can use a workaround if you're still using Windows 8. I wouldn't knock off points for an old game with that problem, though.

_________________
Course clear! You got a card.

Image
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:17 pm 
User avatar
Resident Ninnyhammer
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
Woo! Sticky! Must have done something right. :biggrin:

Lemony Snicket wrote:
Heaven forbid somebody not take a Mario fangame review seriously.

I am exaggerating a bit, honestly. Taking all the fun out of it is not something I want to convey.

DarkSideStrike wrote:
If Im reading what you said on the graphics and music section of the post, whether or not a resource found in a game is overused should not be counted as a con, nor be a pro if the game uses something most other developers have not used before. Its like you are rewarding developers for using resources that are not commonly used while punishing others for using overused resources. What should be rewarded is that whether or not the graphics and music choices compliments the aesthetic of the game...punished if they don't.

What I want to do is encourage innovation and originality in those departments, and it's not very innovating to use the same resources over and over again. Newer graphics are a fresh breath of air--and can in fact be better than old ripped sprites (SMB3 and SMW have some odd design choices here and there).

VinnyVideo wrote:
I wouldn't knock off points for an old game with that problem, though.

I wouldn't either.

_________________
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [zz]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:16 pm 
User avatar
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
Not only images for 11 and 0 existed, but there is also images for 1337 and 13. Just pointing that out, captain. ;)

_________________
Image
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:01 pm 
User avatar
Is that a jojoke?
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
how about just say how you feel in a detailed way and try not to use any bias if that's possible

_________________
Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/luigifanmario
Image
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:34 pm 
User avatar
Waka waka waka
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
Darky wrote:
how about just say how you feel in a detailed way and try not to use any bias if that's possible


That's... basically what he said. Yes.

_________________
Can't take the heat, stop frolicking in the fire flowers.

Grumble Volcano - Mario Kart Wii
 
Top
Offline 
 
 
 [us]
 Post subject: Re: CC's Review Guide
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:35 am 
User avatar
Resident Ninnyhammer
Member
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]

[*]
[*]
[*]
[*]
Darky wrote:
how about just say how you feel in a detailed way and try not to use any bias if that's possible


Indeed, sir. That is exactly what I was saying. Nonetheless, it's good to know that you're being as justifiably agreeable as always.

_________________
 
Top
Offline 
 User page at mfgg.net
 
« Previous topic | Next topic »
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 [ 10 posts ]  Reply to topicPost new topic 


Who is online

Users browsing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum
Jump to:  
cron


Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group